Greetings, judges! For this week’s rock star, we have the regional coordinator of the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Region, who has a reputation for encouraging his judges and for leading by example. Say hello to Nicholas Sabin!
Name: Nicholas Sabin
Location: Wendell, North Carolina
Judge Start Date: I certified for L1 at a Junior Super Series qualifier in 2004.
Why did you become a Judge? I had friends who were active in the judge program, and their stories about how much fun they had made me want to have that fun, too!
Occupation: Associate Technical Account Manager at Yardi Systems, Raleigh, NC
Favourite Card: Villainous Wealth (AKA “Nemesis Wave”)
Least Favourite Card: Grand Arbiter Augustin IV (Grand Theft Arbiter)
Favourite Format: Commander!
Commander General: The Gitrog Monster (AKA “Peggy Schuyler”)
Favourite Non-Magic Game: Hearthstone!
Best Tournament Result: I made Top 8 at New Hampshire States in 1998!
Random fact about yourself: My computer wallpaper is the updated art for Time Walk.
What are some of the rewards and challenges of being a Regional Coordinator?
Being an RC is rewarding because it gives me a direct opportunity to serve and cultivate my community. It is challenging in that building consensus is difficult and managing my time and attention takes its own degree of work.
What advice would you give to members of your region?
Remember that we’re all working together. The people around you can raise you up if you let them, and they’ll also rely on you to do the same.
What advice would you give to a Judge growing up through the program?
Be nice and work hard. If you develop a reputation for being a pleasure to work with, you’ll probably get more opportunities to judge.
Could you recognize a few outstanding members of your region?
Abe Corson has a knowledge of both rules and policy that can only be described as “encyclopedic.” Brian Bradshaw is the Johnny Appleseed of my region; he covers a large, under-served part of the region and certifies new judges like it’s his life’s calling. Liz Richardson has more energy and aptitude for customer service in her left pinkie finger than I have in my entire body. I could go on and on; my region has tons of amazing judges.
What’s the farthest you have ever traveled for a Magic event?
GP Bochum in 2010. That was a lot of time on airplanes.
Does your family travel with you?
They do not. My wife, Amanda, might enjoy traveling to some of the nicer event locations, but bringing our dogs would be a problem (Maybelle especially).
How do you not lose your mind as a RC?
By dealing with one thing at a time, and by realizing that as much as I benefited from the gracious patience and help of other judges, showing that grace and patience to my colleagues is the least that I can do.
What do you feel needs to be improved in the Judge Program?
I think we need to implement a better system for handling the scalability of Magic tournaments. When I started judging, 500 players was considered significant for a U.S. Grand Prix. Nowadays, our expectations are much higher, and yet we still use many of the same systems.
What has been your best experience in the Judge Program?
It’s a tie between when I certified for Level Three (at Pro Tour San Juan in 2010), and when Jason Reedy certified for Level Three (at Worlds in 2011). Jason is a very dear friend of mine and, as happy as I was to achieve L3 myself, seeing Jason get there was extremely rewarding.
What motivates you to continue being a judge?
I continue to judge for two reasons: the people make it worth it, and I’m better at judging than I am at most other activities (save for sleeping and eating).
What has been your favorite magic event that you’ve judged?
That would be Pro Tour Austin. It was a PT where I felt like I performed to the upper end of my ability (at the time), and also happened to take place in a great location (Texas barbecue and Shiner Bock? Seriously?) with a ton of great friends.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Winston Churchill; somebody that witty and that exceptional would make an excellent drinking buddy.
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
I play a lot of Hearthstone (TeamSabin#1342 — add me!) by myself, a bunch of Dominion with my wife, and as much EDH as I can manage. I’ve also been learning how to play tennis, which is an exercise in joy and humility.
What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
The gorilla in the Gorilla Titan artwork. As far as “why,” you’d have to ask Riki Hayashi.
How often do you Travel for Magic?
Less often than I once did. I attend every in-region Grand Prix, and I try to be present for the SCG Tour as well.
What are some of your Regional Goals?
I’d like to see a Level Three judge in each state. I’d like to see stores in the major metropolitan areas working together to schedule PPTQs to the optimal benefit of the players. I’d like to see a Grand Prix (or, better yet, a Pro Tour!) in Raleigh.
What’s one thing in your region which makes playing magic special?
The players in my region are both some of the best in the country, and some of the friendliest. People are very laid-back and kind; I’ve rarely had a bad experience playing Magic in the Mid-Atlantic.
Tell us an embarrassing story that you’re not afraid of everyone knowing.
I organized a dinner one night during U.S. Nationals in Baltimore in 2007. During the dinner, I enjoyed a couple of fine beers. However, I forgot to drink any water during the day, so the combination of alcohol and dehydration left me literally falling asleep at the table during my meal. Quite embarrassing.
How has being a Magic Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
I once heard Seamus Campbell refer to the judge program as a “cult of constructive criticism and self-improvement,” and it rings true. Being a judge has surrounded me with intelligent, capable, friendly people who have helped me grow and improve. I’ve gotten to travel all over the world and meet some of my dearest friends, all because I chose to join the program.
Who are your role models within the Judge Program? What are the qualities that drew you to them?
I wish my thinking was as nuanced and as articulate as Toby Elliott’s. I wish I could anticipate and plan as well as John Alderfer. I wish I was as skilled at nurturing and developing people as Andy Heckt.
How do you have fun during events?
I tell a lot of awful jokes, and I collect high-fives.
[Editor’s Note: Meg Baum wrote most of this profile.]
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I own a playmat with my face superimposed onto the body of a gorilla.
- I was a hand model in high school.
- While in college, I regularly wore my bathrobe (along with other things) to my morning classes.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!